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Cancer survivors’ views on digital support for smoking cessation and alcohol moderation: a survey and qualitative study

Posted on 2021-09-28 - 03:31
Abstract Background Digital interventions may provide low-threshold support for smoking cessation (SC) and alcohol moderation (AM) to the growing population of cancer survivors. The objective was to explore preconditions of successful AM and SC digital interventions for cancer survivors. Methods Using a multi-method approach we conducted a survey (n = 240), a qualitative study consisting of four focus groups (n = 15) and semi-structured interviews with Dutch cancer survivors (n = 8). To help interpretation of our results we interviewed experts in the field of eHealth and cancer survivors (n = 6) and we organized an expert meeting (n = 7). Qualitative data were analysed using the Framework approach and were double-coded by two coders. Results Survey results show the majority of drinkers had not previously considered AM (n = 158, 84.9%), often because they deemed their alcohol use to be non-problematic. All current smokers in the survey had considered SC before. In focus groups and interviews it became clear that SC efforts did not always stem from their own willingness to quit smoking, but originated from a wish to please their social environment. Main themes to be addressed in digital SC and AM that emerged from the interviews and focus groups, centred on the different ways of identification as cancer survivors, need for autonomy, differential beliefs about SC and AM, and the importance of a positive, non-patronizing tone-of-voice. Several specific preferences for digital interventions were formulated, although some cancer survivors prefer no support or face-to-face contact. Conclusions Cancer survivors are a diverse group with diverse preferences for AM and SC support. Digital AM and SC interventions for cancer survivors are perceived to be of value by some, especially when they incorporate a positive, non-judgemental and non-patronizing tone-of-voice, address concerns specifically relevant to cancer survivors, offer possibilities for personalization, and emphasize autonomy throughout. To encourage AM specifically, problem recognition and awareness of the health benefits of AM should be improved.

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